Day-old French bread is the traditional type of bread used for this pudding, but I have also used cinnamon swirl bread and croissants for a richer dessert. The banana sauce is a classic from New Orleans, created at Brennan’s restaurant and usually served over ice cream.
Yield: Makes 9 servings
6 cups (1.4 L) 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces day-old French bread
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
2 cups (473 mL) milk
Freshly grated nutmeg, if desired
For the sauce:
¼ cup (57 g) butter
½ cup (114 g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (30 mL) crème de banana liqueur, if desired
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
¼ cup (59 mL) warm dark rum
Heat oven to 350°F (180°C) with oven rack in middle. Lightly spray 9 x 9-inch (22.5 x 22.5-cm) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place bread in a baking dish.
Beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs in large bowl until blended. Slowly beat in milk. Strain milk mixture through a mesh strainer, and pour over bread.
Let dish stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, or until bread has absorbed the milk mixture. Press any bread that is not moist into the liquid.
Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until set in the center and a knife inserted near center comes out clean although it will be wet.
Cool slightly before serving warm with the sauce, or cool to room temperature and refrigerate.
To Make the Sauce:
Melt butter in 9-inch (22.5 cm) skillet. Add brown sugar and lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a sauce forms. Stir in crème de banana. Add banana slices and heat until warm. Ignite the warm rum and pour into the sauce.
Cut pudding into squares and place in individual serving dishes.
Spoon the hot sauce over the pudding.
Baker’s Note: I think the flavor of freshly grated nutmeg is not as sharp as ground nutmeg, and I like it sprinkled lightly on this dessert.
Secrets to Success: Because dark rum is aged longer than light or medium rum, it has a smoother flavor that enhances desserts. Myers’ rum is the well-known dark Jamaican rum that I use.
The rum must be warm to ignite. Warm it in a small saucepan and ignite it using a gas lighter or a long match because the flames flare up. I have also heated the rum in a metal ladle, ignited it, and poured it into the sauce.
Only try to ignite the rum once. If you keep adding more rum, the pudding will be overwhelmed with it.